Excerpt from Miracles of the Eucharist book 2 by Bob and Penny Lord
There is a small Italian village called Morrovalle, located
in a center of the Marches,1 halfway between Macerata2
and Civitanova Marche, on the Adriatic Sea, in the township of
Macerata and the diocese of Fermo. The city is enclosed within
a Medieval wall. As we enter through the gate called Porta
Alvaro, in honor of the general from Aragon who was killed in
1445, in front of this gate3
defending the Pope against Francis
Sforza, we wonder how much if any, this little town has changed
since 1568. The sign on the Porta reads “Eucharistic City”.
When a visitor enters the gate to the city, the first thing he sees
is the plaque pointing to the Miracle of the Eucharist of 1560.
Around 1210, under the pontificate of Innocenzo III, the
first convent of the Franciscans was built in Morrovalle, in the
Angels’ Quarter. It was nothing like what we would consider
a convent today. It was just a small hut where the Franciscans
could headquarter, as they began their evangelization of the area.
If the convent was not founded by St. Francis himself, assuredly
it was founded by one of the friars close to him, considering
the fact that the rule of St. Francis had only been approved
by the Pope the year before. We know that St. Francis came
evangelizing into this area the following year, in 1211, so the
humble little headquarters may have been finished for his first
visit. And knowing St. Francis, the more modest the convent,
the more he liked it.
Around 1290, after the death of St. Francis, the Benedictines,
of the Abbey of Saint Fermano of Montelupone, gave the Franciscans a hospice, a more proper building which could
be used for housing their community, as well as being their
headquarters. This became the “Convent of Saint Francis”.
Close to the convent was a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
[Special Note: The Portziuncola, the first church of St.
Francis, which is located in the small village of Our Lady of
the Angels near Assisi, was also given to him by Benedictines;
although he insisted on not owning it and paid them one bushel
of fish rent each year.]
Centuries later, there was a miracle which would take place
in that church, that would be substantiated, so completely, there
would be no doubt that the Lord had intervened for His children.
So important was this to God and His plan for our salvation that
less than ten days after the discovery of the miracle, the Pope
would order an immediate investigation (the 40 page document is
kept in the nearby village of Falconara). The Pope sent a special
canonical committee to gather information. Four months after
the canons arrived at their conclusive findings, affirming the
Miracle, a Bull was issued by Pope Pius IV in which he solemnly
recognized the authenticity of the Miracle, (the Bull is preserved
in the parochial church of Saint Bartholomew, in Morrovalle).
It was Holy Week, April 1560. On Good Friday, the Church
had been in total mourning. Our Savior had died! Not only had
the lights dimmed in all the churches in the town, but also in the
hearts of the people of Morrovalle. The church was an empty
building; the Lord was not there. The Tabernacle was empty!
They could feel the emptiness deep inside their hearts, as they
knelt before the open, empty Tabernacle, that Good Friday. Their
mood must have been like what the women had felt when they
came and found the tomb empty. There was a cold chill in the
church, as the Faithful entered on Holy Saturday evening for the
Easter Vigil Mass. [There is no feeling of loneliness like a church
without the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.] When, at
last, the forty days of lent were over, and Light rose from the dark (the tomb), they rejoiced for the first time, Alleluia, He is
risen! With dawn, a new day had risen with the Light of joy -
It was Easter Sunday! [St. Paul said, “If Christ has not been
raised, your faith is futile and you are all still in your sins.” 4
And we are lost!]
Easter Sunday, April 14th, the Church had ended its
sorrowful days of Holy Week with a new day and new hope.
Now, the Faithful were celebrating Easter week. But at this
moment, the entire village was sound asleep. It was Tuesday, two
a.m. in the morning. The friars were in a very deep sleep having
returned that evening from an apostolic pilgrimage bringing St.
Francis’ “Pace e Bene” (Peace and Good) to all, the cities, the
villages and the countryside. Father Bonaventura, of the Friars
of the Grey Penitents, was awakened by a loud crackling hideous
shriek, like that of a madman. He shot up from bed. Startled, he
ran to the window to see if he could spot the intruder. The dark
night was suddenly lit up as if it was on fire. Huge, red clouds
of smoke rose, filling the sky. Bright streaks of flames shot up,
not too far in the distance. “Oh my God,” the priest thought,
horrified, “It’s the church!” Tongues of fire were engulfing the
church, consuming and ravishing everything within.
Frightened, he awakened Father Superior, who sounded
the alarm. Men, women and children from the village dressed
quickly and ran, buckets of water in their hands, ready to help.
Immediately, the friars organized the volunteers. More and more
villagers flocked to the church, in an attempt to save her. But,
despite the heroic efforts of everyone, it took seven hours to
finally extinguish the fire. Blackened by smoke, tears running
down their cheeks, lungs burning from the fumes, all the villagers
could do was stare at the church, as if they could wish away the
horror before their eyes. All that was left of their beautiful church
was a heap of smoking ruins. The cause of the fire was never
discovered. But we do wonder! Was Father not awakened by
what sounded like a horrible shriek from a demon? Does this sound far-fetched? Did not the devil move St. John Vianney’s
bed from one side to another during the night, going so far as to
set it on fire, another night?5
When the Provincial, Father Girolamo, heard the news, he
hastened from Ancona to Morrovalle. Looking over the burnt
remains of the church, and having determined the extent of
the catastrophe, he decided, in accord with the Superior of the
convent, that before clearing away the debris from the rest of
the church, they had better go to the Altar where the Blessed
Sacrament was and try to ascertain what damage had been done
to the Hosts by the fire. He engaged Brother Illuminato and
Father Battista of Ascoli to help him see to it.
The Papal Bull of Pope Pius IV speaks of Father Battista as
a holy priest, a simple and good man of flawless reputation and
a lifetime of integrity. Born of Jewish parents, Divine Grace
enlightened him when he was still a boy. [We have interviewed
priests who have converted to the Catholic Church, and their
testimony is pretty much the same. They will say, that upon
entering a church, they felt the overpowering presence of Jesus
and they knew! Mother Angelica once told us, it is by Divine
Grace that we are Catholics. So it is not to our credit or a sign
of our worth, but of God’s love.] He became a Christian, and
then entered the Franciscan order and, thanks to his example, to
the doctrine he preached, and to his convictions, he was able to
bring to the Catholic Faith, 22 converts from the Hebrew Faith.6
Holy Saturday, three days before the fire, during the
celebration of the Mass, Father Battista had consecrated a second
large Host and placed It in the ciborium of the main Altar of the
church. As the three Friars fought their way through the rubble,
climbing over charred pews and smashed statues, choking at
times from the lingering smell of smoke that covered the broken
and bruised remnants of their precious church, burning their fingers, arms and legs on the charred remains of pews, they
struggled toward the Altar, praying, but not daring to hope they
would find the Host intact. It became more and more evident
that nothing had survived the ruthless fire.
But on April 27, it was to be different. It was exactly ten
days after the disaster. Using great persistence, they began to
remove huge pieces of marble that had once been the Altar. It
was a devastating sight, almost as if a giant hand had smashed
it, or the fires of hell had tried to consume it. Part of the Altar
had fallen, blocking the wall where the Tabernacle had been.
The Friars and their helpers lifted the heavy piece of marble.
There was the cubicle, where the Tabernacle had been, but the
Tabernacle had melted from the intense heat. All that was left
were wood splinters and fragments of marble. Tears in their
eyes, they reverently began to lift the fractured parts of the Lord’s
former palace, the Tabernacle. They gently brushed aside the
mound of grey soft ashes that had collected in the opening. They
could not believe their eyes. There was something gleaming!
As they peered deeper into the alcove where the Tabernacle had
been, Father Battista beheld the Holy Eucharist! There Our
Lord was, in the middle of a cave, once again, unharmed as in
Bethlehem. Only now, the swaddling cloth was the corporal,
atop another linen cloth. The corporal was scorched and the
second cloth burned more; but the Host rested intact under a
of ash. The feet and the cup of the pyx, where Our
Lord had reposed, had completely melted together from the heat
of the fire; only its cover had resisted the flames.
They all fell to their knees in adoration. Their Lord was
alive, and He was here with them! They were overcome, tears
flowing down their faces. Recovering, they began to cry out:
There was a Miracle in their midst! The other Friars hastened
to broadcast the Good News! The bells tolled, announcing to all
the surrounding region that Jesus was miraculously in their midst.
Once again, the Good News went out, only now the Angels, who
had heralded the Good News in Bethlehem, were using bells
to proclaim that Our Savior was alive. Just as that first Good
News would begin in a small village and travel to the whole
world, so this Good News would spread from village to city,
to countryside, to region, to you today. The bells kept ringing.
As the Angels kept whispering in more and more townspeoples’
ears, they flocked to the remains of the little church.
The Faithful took turns guarding the Miracle, kneeling in
adoration, amidst the burned remnants of what had been the
Altar. The Host was exposed for three days. Was Our Lord
telling them, and us that what happens on the Altar is the ongoing
death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus? Was He telling them
and us that He is alive on the Altar, after the Consecration, in
In the days that followed, the people of the village and of
the region, in ever-growing numbers, came to see for themselves.
Then upon seeing, believing; and upon believing, fell on their
knees in adoration of the Lord in this Miracle. On the fourth day,
the Superior having called him, Father Provincial Evangelista
da Mora d’Alba arrived, and in the presence of the many
Faithful who had gathered, and in the company of the Friars
and the officials of the city, he celebrated a Solemn High Mass
of thanksgiving for the Miracle received. After the Mass, he
removed the miraculous Host from the area where It had been
found, and reverently placed It in a Tabernacle, lent for the
occasion by the Parish of the Collegiate Church of Morrovalle.
Afterward, the Host was placed into a vessel made of
ivory and housed in a larger chest, for security purposes. They
carefully safeguarded their Treasure, by locking the chest with
three keys: two were consigned to the guardianship of the Priory
and kept there, and the third was in the custody of the Friars.
A Feast Day was proclaimed, to announce the Miracle.
Excerpt from Miracles of the Eucharist book 2 by Bob and Penny Lord